Reductionism And Behavior Analysis (Marcus Jackson Marr)

All of natural science, by definition, has the primary task of reducing Nature's complexities given ­to a limited set of concepts, principles, laws, and mechanisms that, more or less, captures that complexity.  Behavior analysis, as a natural science, certainly exemplifies this task, by, for example, reducing the complexities of behavior to the action of contingencies.  But even within that framework, there remain many complexities.  I will discuss some of the "homogeneous" modes and issues of reduction in behavior analysis, but there are even greater challenges.  As essentially a biological science, the issue arises of the relationships of behavior analysis to other biological functions at all levels­-especially behavior in relation to neural processes­-so called "heterogeneous" reduction.  This is one of the most difficult issues in biological science.  The challenges are not simply empirical, but deeply conceptual.  I will attempt to survey some of these challenges.

 

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